Android's notification system has gone through some pretty intense work since the start of the platform, but that doesn't mean that third-party developers can't improve it even more. Case in point: Floatify, a customization app that's been floating around (sorry) for the better part of two years. The latest version is number ten, and it adds a couple of features from the new Android N Developer Preview. If your device isn't invited to play with the Nexus crowd (or you just don't want to deal with the instability), you can back-port some of those neat touches.
You've decorated your house, you've put on a festive watch face, you can't help but see red and green Christmas stuff everywhere you go, so what about decorating your phone's messenger app? After all, this is probably the thing you look at most during the day, so adding some jolly good spirit would go a long way in making the holiday charm follow you all the time. Facebook agrees and so it has updated its Messenger application with lots of customization options and some end-of-year themed options.
Version 1.40 of YouTube Kids, Google's way of getting your children hooked on video clips from a young age, doesn't want any youngster missing out on what's going on outdoors. Encouraging them to look away from the screen would be too risky, so instead YouTube Kids now has a winter-themed homescreen. Look at the snow, and imagine the cold.
In version 39, Chrome for Android learned an awesome trick: using a simple HTML tag, any webpage could tell Chrome to theme its UI (and your device's status bar) with a specified color. The downside to this feature was that it only worked if tabs and apps were "merged," meaning your Chrome tabs would show up inline with your recent apps, rather than relying on Chrome's own in-app tab switcher.
Today, a Chrome for Android developer at Google let Reddit know that the theme-color attribute will soon make Chrome snazzy even if you don't have tabs and apps merged. Right now the flag (chrome://flags/#enable-theme-color-in-tabbed-mode) will only work in Chrome Dev 47.0.2516.0 (available from the Play Store or APK Mirror), and support isn't complete yet - the flag won't allow Chrome to theme your status bar and swiping across the toolbar to switch tabs is a little glitchy, for instance.
With the official stable release of Android Studio v1.3 a couple of weeks ago, it's time to begin testing the next string of new features. The first preview release of version 1.4 is now in the Canary channel, and it's sporting some big new features. The Android Tools team has been working on the new theme editor first demonstrated in the I/O session titled What's New in Android Development Tools. There are also new performance monitors for GPU and network activity, a vector asset wizard for turning SVG files into XML vector drawables, and a few new lint checks.
Here is the Google I/O session video cued up to the beginning of the theme editor demo at 36 minutes:
The new theme editor examines the styles in a project and displays visual samples of what controls should look like on a live interface.
Last week, there was a kerfuffle online about a couple of themes developed by an XDA member for the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge that aimed to bring a more authentic Material look to Samsung's devices. Said themes were approved then suspended by the company, supposedly because of copyright infringements over the wallpaper and icons, but the developer fixed those issues and has resubmitted them.
In the meantime, another Material theme was approved and went live today in the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge's Theme Store.
At one time in history, building an app that gave a consistent experience across all (or most) versions of Android was nearly impossible without dedicating a lot of time and effort. Thanks to the Android Support Library (a.k.a. AppCompat), it's easy to use some of the most important and commonplace user interface elements on versions of Android going as far back as Donut and Éclair. A fresh update for AppCompat was just released, bringing it to v22.1, and it introduces some really big changes. The ActionBarActivity has been deprecated for a new AppCompatActivity class, several new features from Lollipop were ported back to the Support V4, and some big improvements were made for Leanback, Palette, RecyclerView, and Renderscript.
Sony's recent Xperia phones and tablets have included themable skins for the proprietary Sony UI that runs on top of Android. Now Sony wants you (yes, you!) to make themes for its devices using a custom Java desktop program. The company has released a beta version of the application for aspiring theme makers, available from the Sony Developer site.
The program allows you to apply different colors and graphical elements to the various bits and pieces of Sony's themes. It's basically a streamlined setup process - anyone who's made themes for the CyanogenMod engine or a custom Android launcher will feel pretty comfortable.
The Team Win Recovery Project is a great custom recovery, but it isn't pretty. Back in the Ice Cream Sandwich days, it kind of blended in. Nowadays, it's just that outdated screen you largely don't care about while you flash .zips.
But what if TWRP could look just as sleek as the rest of Android 5.0? Thanks to the work of XDA developer z31s1g, it can get close. He has released a Materialized TWRP theme that changes the appearance of every screen, including when you're wiping partitions or running scripts. It comes in either a light or dark variant, and you can choose any of 15 colors.
With Android Lollipop, Google gave the keyboard its biggest visual refresh since the release of Honeycomb. If you like the look but don't particulary care to use the default input method, you have to wait for third-party keyboards to jump on board themselves. SwiftKey already introduced a couple Material Design-inspired themes in the past, but now it's back with five more.
In the newest theme pack, you get three new colors to work with: Material Orange, Material Phosphor Green, and Material Pink.
You also get minimal versions of Material Dark and Material Light. These look more like the standard Lollipop keyboard, as they lack the key boundaries that SwiftKey has added to its themes.